As you might know, Jake and I have been living a few weeks in our new home sans flooring (thanks to the lovely housewarming gifts the previous owners’ cats left us.. all over the carpet..). We are ready as ever to get some clean surface under our feet to walk around on! There are so many choices of flooring though, it can be overwhelming at times.
Luckily we were able to narrow it down right off the bat. We’re both partial to hardwood flooring and knew that we would definitely be taking that route. Even with that in mind, it still seemed like we had an insurmountable task of choosing the best hardwood flooring (without breaking the bank too much at the same time). Well, I’m happy to say I’ve learned a lot – like more than any girl should ever know – about hardwood flooring choices and so I figure I might as well share my newly begotten expertise here with you! (That way all the info you need on choosing the best hardwood flooring for you is right here in one post, and you don’t have to go all google-crazy on the interwebs finding obscure details about every hardwood out there)
Choosing the Best Hardwood Flooring for You
First off, let’s go over the various types of hardwoods you can buy and their finishing options. There are pretty much three overarching categories of hardwood flooring (narrowing your choice to just one or two of these categories will help you immensely!)
Unfinished Hardwood Flooring – that’s right, wood in the purest form. Basically when you buy unfinished hardwood it comes unsealed and unstained. You will need to have the floor installed (or do it yourself) then stained to the color of your choice and finished off with a sealant.
- Totally customizable, any color or finish you want you have the option to use.
- Potential to last multiple lifetimes, because this flooring has a substantial layer of hardwood on top, it can be sanded down and refinished many times.
- Perfectly smooth flooring, this is the only option where you can perfectly flat floors. Unfinished hardwood floors come with squared edges and are sanded so the seams blend together. (Vs other prefinished options that have slightly beveled edges and you can always feel a slight dip between boards)
- Can be cheaper than prefinished hardwood, unless you have to pay for someone to finish it (so a good money-saving option for DIYers)
- You have to have it finished, and this can take time and money. You won’t be able to install your floors and move everything back in the next day. It takes time to sand, stain, and seal your flooring.
- You don’t get some of the cool modern finishes, if your into hand scraped or wire brushed floors it will take a specialty contractor to apply this finish to your unfinished hardwood floor.
Recommendation: If you are a traditionalist, wood enthusiastic, DIYer or a true details person, unfinished hardwood flooring could be a great choice for you. It’s totally customizable, ultimately the most quality flooring if done right, and a cheaper option IF you finish and install yourself.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring – real hardwood flooring that comes pre-stained and sealed. You get a ready-to-go floor that’s still the real deal… Sounds like a great option right?
- Floors that last for generations, again this is real hardwood and can be sanded and refinished multiple times.
- Modern finish options, prefinished floors now come in a plethora of different styles and finishes. You can get almost any look you want.
- Low time commitment, once the floor is installed, you’re done! No need to slide around in socks for days while you wait for the polyurethane sealer to cure.
- Can be more expensive, you pay for convenience. And with this choice you’re getting the best quality with the most convenience, so it makes sense that you’d pay more.
- No perfectly smooth flooring, as mentioned above, any pre-finished flooring comes with slightly beveled edges on each board to prevent chips during installation. This will result in slight ridges between planks.
Recommendation: If you value the solidity and long-lasted-ness of solid hardwood, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of finishing it (and don’t mind paying a little more) prefinished hardwood flooring is for you.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring – this is a fun new option available in hardwood flooring. Basically the flooring base is made up of treated plywood and a thin (2-5mm) veneer of real wood is added on top. Once installed most could never tell it was engineered.
- Install options, you can nail, glue, or float the flooring so depending on what you prefer (ease of install, quality install, etc.) you can find an engineered hardwood that does it
- Hardwood floors over concrete slab, now I don’t know all those structural engineering details… but before this type of flooring was inventing you couldn’t install hardwoods over concrete slab. But because engineered hardwood can be glued or floated you can now do so.
- Price point, in general engineered flooring tends to be a cheaper option than the rest due to the fact that less real wood is used.
- Modern finish options, again it comes in lots of options like hand scraped or wire brushed.
- Limited lifetime, some engineered hardwood flooring cannot be sanded and refinished (if it’s less than 2mm thick), and some others can but only once, possibly twice.
- Not ‘solid’ hardwood, and can be an inferior product because it is manmade. You have to know and trust the brand for quality before purchasing.
- Chance of warping, back to checking the quality of the engineered before purchasing: some very thin and poorly made veneers can warp and buckle.
Recommendation: If you’re not stuck on ‘solid hardwood,’ a little forward-thinking, thrifty, DIY-handy, and enjoy modern finishes, engineered hardwood could be a great choice for you.
And… the moment you’ve all been waiting for….. our flooring choice 😉 While we’re still narrowing down the exact finish, we’ve decided to go with engineered hardwood!! Woohoo for modern flooring technology 🙂
I hope this was helpful for you in your flooring journey. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks as we eventually lay our floors and make other updates on our new home!